Packed lunches

It is important to include a balanced variety of foods in your child’s lunchbox so they get all the nutrients they need to reach their full potential. Packed lunches offer a valuable contribution to your child’s diet, so it is worth spending a little time planning and preparing what goes into them.

Recent surveys looking at children’s lunchboxes showed that they were too high in fat (especially saturated fat), salt and sugar, and just under half the lunchboxes contained no fruit. Most of the fat, salt and sugar comes from a limited range of foods – the table below shows the main contributors.

  Fat Salt Sugar
Butter/spreads X    
Crisps X X  
Cheese X    
Biscuits X   X
Chocolate bars X   X
White Bread   X  
Processed meats, eg ham   X  
Fizzy drinks     X
Ready-to-drink juice drinks     X

Parents often worry that their child’s lunchbox lacks variety but are reluctant to try new things in case their child does not like it and goes hungry. If this is an issue for you, why not try new foods at the weekend when there is less pressure on the child and an alternative is available.

The Public Health Agency has produced a leaflet for parents on healthier lunchboxes, which will be sent out to every child in primary school. Please click the link below to access the leaflet.

Are you packing a healthy lunch (PDF)